25 June 2006

you got nothing to fear

I have not travelled in a while and I am nervous. But I am ready to pick up my belongings and move again.

I am heading for Bosnia and Herzegovina, a place that I know little about.

The book I will be reading is ‘Sarajevo Marlboro’.
The author and my guide is Miljenko Jergovic. I am promised his own version of a nightmare world. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited.

the navigator

14 June 2006

a ghost among those trees

Other places that Arenas led me to were far more familiar and comforting - confirming the fact that while we live in different worlds shared human experience runs between us all.

Together we smiled at our memories of eating dirt as children - and making it central in much of our early play.

‘To dig out the earth was to discover unusual treasures like pieces of colored glass, snail shells, and shards of pottery.’

We clung together through our craving to stay ever close to the sea - which offered escape both mentally and physically for Arenas (in his attempt to swim away to neutral waters).

‘no one can feel despair when facing such beauty and vitality.’

We drifted away together on wild wings of recollection at our love of dreamtime.

‘To go to bed and switch off the light has been for me to submit to a totally unknown world, full of delicious as well as sinister promises.’

And we nodded together in acknowledgement of the irony that only once it is gone do we come to miss that which we spend our entire life trying to leave behind.

the circumnavigator

I came here to scream

Reinaldo Arenas led me by the hand through his Cuba. At times we ran. At times we strolled. He showed me some places I couldn’t quite understand. And some places that I will be glad if I never see again.

He showed me a life lived within limits laid down by others - in a country where regulation increasingly restricted the modes of expression for both love and writing.

‘A sense of beauty is always dangerous and antagonistic to any dictatorship because it implies a realm extending beyond the limits that a dictatorship can impose on human beings.’

Within my mind he forged new unbreakable links between writing and love. About the necessity for both and the vital need to express them freely.

‘Writing crowned or complemented all other pleasures as well as all other calamities.’

He raised questions that ask if forbidden love is more passionate because of its desperation? and whether authors writing under censorship can learn to thrive on their limitations?

Above all he showed me how he lived as quickly and as passionately as possible with the time allowed - before his time ran out. And how he wrote while he could, with the light on his side - Before Night Falls.

the circumnavigator